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The MIT education: General Institute Requirements

General Institute Requirements (GIRs) are MIT’s core curriculum and foundation for the rest of your education.

William Barton Rogers, MIT’s founding president, once wrote that “the abstract studies…of the philosopher are often the most beneficent sources of practical discovery and improvement.” To achieve this diverse education, General Institute Requirements are completed by everyone at MIT no matter their area of study.

They include the:

  • Science core: six foundational courses in mathematics, physics, biology, and chemistry
  • HASS requirementa minimum of eight subjects in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, including three to four in a concentration of your choice
  • Communication requirementfour communication-intensive courses, including at least two relevant to your major, to develop effective writing and speaking skills
  • Laboratory requirement: a minimum number of credits of practical, project-based work to stimulate your resourcefulness, planning skills, and analysis of observations
  • REST requirement: two subjects of Restricted Electives in Science and Technology to give you the opportunity to proceed further in areas already studied, or to explore other areas of potential interest outside your major
  • Physical education requirement: a minimum of four physical education courses, plus passing a 100-yard swim test, because your mind is in your body and we want both to be as capable as possible

Your course of study

Counting credits at MIT is complicated and different for every student and major. However, as a rule of thumb, you can generalize that about half of your time at MIT will be spent taking the GIRs, and about half of your time will be spent specializing in your course(s) of study. It is possible to earn advanced placement or advanced standing in the GIRs.

The important thing to know is that, through the GIRs, every MIT graduate has the same foundational education necessary to solve hard problems in a complex world.